• Obama said in a Medium post peaceful protests combined with political activism are what is needed to effect change
  • Obama also urged the adoption of specific laws to address criminal justice and other issues
  • Biden called the current wave of protests a "tidal wave" that has opened people's eyes

Former President Barack Obama on Monday urged protesters to channel their “justifiable anger” into peaceful activism and decried the violent demonstrations that have followed in the wake of the death of a black man at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.

Obama’s former vice president, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, told a group of community leaders “something big” needs to be done to attack systemic racism in U.S. society.

The comments came as President Trump further stoked divisions, urging the use of military force to bring an end to the protests that have rocked communities across the country since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, who died while former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. Chauvin has been charged with murder.

Trump has yet to speak to the nation to try to calm the violence.

Both Obama and Biden rejected violent protests, calling them counterproductive and saying only a small minority is responsible, with the vast majority of protesters conducting peaceful demonstrations.

In a Medium post, Obama urged demonstrators not to reject participation in politics as a means of addressing racism and effecting change, and called for the passage of specific laws to deal with criminal justice and other issues.

“So the bottom line is this: If we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both,” Obama wrote, concluding, “If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.”

Biden met with community leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and later told a group of mayors the current wave of protests is different than past movements.

“I really do believe that the blinders have been taken off. I think this tidal wave is moving,” Biden told the mayors. “I realize we’ve got to do something big, we can do it, and everyone will benefit from it.”

On Friday, he called on white people to acknowledge their responsibility for racism.